I’m watching Russian lessons in this intensive program. I feel as though I’m in a teacher-training course. Often, I ask myself the question that my pre-TPRS life trained me to ask: what proficiency goal does this activity address?
Example: students draw a self-portrait, and around it write everything possible about themselves. Then they play a game in which they try to out-talk others.
Example: students play a game in which each has contributed two family names, one male, one female, to a set of cards. Others draw the cards from a pile and ask scaffolded questions: is this a “he”? A “she”? Is s/he a (teacher)? Is s/he your (mother, father, aunt)? If the answer to a question is “no,” the person answering just gives the correct information, creating a semi-real situation.
One game was played in the beginning class, and one in the more advanced class. The students were competitive in the first, and highly interested in the outcome of the second. In each case, the language was comprehensible, compelling, and repetitive. They’ll be using this language over and over as they get better acquainted with their families here and as they meet new friends.
Back at home, we develop these skills whenever we develop the back story on a figure in a story we’re telling. These are necessary for almost every situation in life. Here the students are using a bigger variety of grammar forms to explain all the pieces of their lives, and for the advanced students, that’s appropriate. They need to be able both to understand and communicate these ideas.